Magical Breakfast Burritos

This burrito might just be the super-powered vegan and gluten free breakfast miracle you have been searching for.

A few weeks ago I enjoyed a beautiful weekend in the Okanagen, experiencing amazing food, wine and a wrap that I have not been able to stop dreaming about. My friend and I landed at a kitschy coffee shop that served amazing local java and a vegan wrap that even left my carnivore travel companion in a puddle of her own drool.

Desperate to recreate what I have been missing, I amped up the breakfast treat by adding a whole lot of high-nutrient fillings to really get your Monday off to the right start, or at the very least, make up a little bit for what you did to your body over the weekend at the wine bar.

First, I began with dandelion. I remember working for an Italian family when I was young and them selling frozen chopped dandelion in bags. Like most, I turned my nose up and thought who in the world would purchase weeds to actually consume. Turns out dandelion is amazing in soup and you can easily remove the bitterness with a cold bath. Also, pairing this with a sweet potato gives a bit of balance which is needed. I also blanched the sweet potato and then just sprinkled with hot smoked paprika and a bit of raw coconut sugar to bring out the flavour and also give it a nice crisp on the outside while not over cooking it.

Moving on to the tofu scramble, while scrambling tofu can seem a little bit scary at first to those who are die-hard egg fans, I found that adding a bit of nutritional yeast and cooking in a bit of water and plain soy milk did give a bit more creaminess and egg texture.

The whole thing gets stuffed with sweet pea shoots, some pan fried peppers and spicy green pesto. YUM YUM.

TOFU SCRAMBLE:

Take a half block of soft tofu and crumble into medium-heat pan. Add quarter cup of soy milk and quarter cup water, 1 tblsp nutritional yeast, half tsp tumeric, salt to taste. cook until liquid dissolved.

ROASTED SLICED SWEET POTATO:

Blanch sweet potato which is peeled and sliced in half. Remove and slice into strips, coating with a spray of olive oil, then sprinkle with hot smoked paprika and a half tsp of raw coconut sugar. Salt and pepper and place into 425 degree oven for approx. 25 min, turning once. Remove.

WILTED DANDELION GREENS:

Take one bunch organic dandelion greens and plunge into cold water bath with salt for ten minutes. Drain. Steam greens in steamer until wilted-about 3 minutes.

SPICY TRUFFLE PESTO:

Take one bunch fresh basil, quarter cup toasted pine nuts, 2 tsp truffle oil, half a squeezed lemon and half cup olive oil and place into blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp red chili flake, 2 cloves roasted garlic and pulse for 8-10 pulses or until mealy and blended. Do not over blend.

ASSEMBLY:

Take a rice or gluten-free burrito wrap and warm in a moist towel in microwave to soften. Remove and heat up pan to medium heat as we will toast the burrito to give a good shell on the outside so none of your yummy filling seeps out!

Place tofu scramble first, then wilted dandelion, sweet potato then thinly sliced pan-fried red pepper (you can do this quick once you remove your tofu from the pan) all on top of one another. Top with pesto and pea shoots and then fold in sides and roll like a burrito. Toast for a few minutes on each side until browned. Top with more pea shoots and enjoy!

Recipe makes two large burritos and enough pesto for a week of dipping afterwards!

It is audition season!

I cannot believe it is almost July.

I find myself becoming increasingly envious of my friends and family back home in Niagara who display their perfectly-manicured gardens, the luscious blooms splayed all over my facebook feed. I think here in Calgary I saw the tulips come up in June, and it snowed in the mountains just days ago.

The seasons have become a blur to me here, in this place I have called home. I have lost track of the amount of times I have had to move recently for work, or love, or both…and I long for the comforts of what home was to me.

You know…pancakes in the morning and pastas at night for the kids. Picking fresh herbs out of my garden and laying in the sun on my deck for a few hours while sipping wine from Niagara that I had just picked up on my last drive into the country.

I have been slacking with this blog lately, which does not mean for a minute I haven’t been cooking or baking, but I have just been incredibly busy with work, projects, auditions and craziness.

This leads me to this post-food that brings the comfort of home but elevates the dish just that little bit more into something that still makes your lips smack, your heart flutter, your mind wander into fond, delightful memories of that place that you used to call home.

I am still undecided which final one I am submitting for the Wall of Chefs audition-I did a veg burger but then made pasta so maybe I will go a vegetarian pasta route. Who knows… 🙂

Below is my veg version of this dish. I made the non-veg version for a friend last night but promise this version is equally as yummy. Remove the honey to make it vegan 🙂

Cherries Clafouti – elevated and vegetarian

CHERRIES CLAFOUTI

Ingredients

2.5 C pitted cherries (you can also leave in pits for more flavour) – DIVIDED

300g silken tofu-slightly whipped

100g almond flour

1 tblsp tapioca flour

4 tblsp raw coconut sugar

2 tsp honey

1 half tsp salt

5 tblsp almond milk

1 half tsp vanilla extract

For brandied cherries:

Remaining half C pitted cherries

6 tblps raw sugar

about a quarter C Brandy

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil
  3. Mix together your wet ingredients, slowly adding dry. Do not overmix.
  4. Spread a thin layer (about an inch) of mix onto pan. Place in oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until firms up slightly.
  5. Open oven and sprinkle about 2 cups of cherries on top and pour remaining batter over.
  6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden but not too browned.
  7. Remove from oven to cool slightly and while that is cooling, on the stovetop, prepare your sugar and water mix and bring to rolling boil.
  8. Add brandy and cherries, reducing heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes max.
  9. Remove immediately and cool in the freezer for a minute or so, so it doesn’t over cook.
  10. Using a large round glass, cut out a warm disc of the clafouti and place on your plate. decorate plate with the brandied, warm cherries and garnish with fresh lavender and mint.
  11. Dust top of clafouti with powdered sugar and add a dallop of your favourite vegan whipped cream, cocowhip or a zesting of lemon.

Spring Faux Scallop Appetizer

Spring faux scallop with wasabi, lemon, cilantro


I am thrilled to share this latest creation in my kitchen-fake scallops. Made with King Oyster mushrooms, I have tried a few variations of this. In my previous post, I used eggplant for my scallop and it delivered a great taste, but did NOT have that slight, scallop chew we former meat eaters may recall.

It has been incredibly busy these past few weeks and I have been quiet due to mostly work has been awesome yet insanely busy, and also, MasterChef Canada aired a few weeks back and I was slightly sulking.

I know I have a great palate, I just need to really knock them out of the park with my audition this year. Still, it has been amazing to see other contestants who some are now my friends, move forward and compete for the grande prize.

With the trend of plant-forward eating still going strong, I wanted to focus on a few easy appetizers that will easily impress – and fool – your omni friends. I did a poll on my Instagram and Facebook today, and the majority of people who saw this dish voted it was a scallop! YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! (plant-eater for the win).

As Chef Alvin would say, it is alllllllll about the taste. Well dont worry- I got that covered for you as well. A few steps, a lot of fun to make, and enjoy fooling your friends 😉

Spring Faux Scallop Appetizer

Serves 2

Ingredients

-2 King Oyster mushrooms, sliced into medallions slightly bigger than your average scallop (as they shrink), soaked in hot lemon water (squeeze a lemon in 2 Cups of water for one hour. Drain and press with towel to remove excess liquid). **For extra flair, you can notch the sides slightly with a sharp knife as I did, to add grooves for your seasoning and butter to go into)

-One cup frozen peas

-White Miso paste-half tsp

-Pinky fingertip sized ginger piece, shaved

-Cilantro and lemon for garnish; salt and pepper to taste (use the grinder, not shakers for this)

-1 quarter tsp wasabi

-1 tsp mushroom soy sauce

-3 tsp oil

-3 tsp vegan butter

Method

In a saucepan, saute ginger for 30 seconds in 1 tsp oil. Add peas, half cup water, salt and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until tender.

While peas are cooking, take prepped King Oyster mushrooms, brush with white miso paste with a moistened finger gently onto scallop and pat dry once more. Do not put too much miso-you just want a dab on each side. Heat oil on medium-high heat. Fry for 30 seconds, flip, and fry for another 30 seconds. Add 1 tsp Vegan butter melted slightly with the 1 tsp of soy. Add to pan and press the sides of the scallop (outside round) down hard into pan, to form a crust. Flip and repeat, removing after 4 minutes. Add cracked pepperand dash of salt to pan and graze both sides of the scallop through the leftover pan juices. You should have a crust on each side with white sides. Place to side.

Puree your peas with 1 tsp cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. Use remaining vegan butter and add the wasabi. Salt to taste.

Smear or spoon puree on plate. Top with scallop and garnish with cilantro, a slice or squeeze of lemon. Serve hot immediately.

Fully Loaded Portobello Mushroom

Do you know how people load up baked potatoes and stuff them with crazy goodness? This is the mushroom version, filled with green lentils, quinoa, peas, tomatoes, and if you would like, topped with cheese (as pictured). But, you could easily make this vegan in a pinch.

The meatiness of the mushrooms and texture profile of the different ingredients delivers variety and flavour , allowing you to feel completely satisfied and not missing out on anything-period.

Ingredients:

-Four large portobello mushroom caps (meant for stuffing); cleaned, stems and gills removed

-1/2 C peas, steamed

-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

-1/2 C quinoa, prepared as per package

-1 cup cooked green lentils as per package (in veg broth is ideal)

-1/2 Cup of minced celery, carrot (total combined)

-1 clove garlic, minched

-1/4 onion, minced

-1 tsp of herbs de provence

-Fresh herbs for garnish

-Olive or avocado oil for cooking

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a tsp of olive oil in saute pan. While lentils and quinoa are cooking, saute your onion for 2 mins, add minced vegetables, cook for another 2 mins, then add garlic, cooking for a minute. Stir in cooked quinoa-remove from heat and set aside.

Salt and pepper your lentils to taste.

Roast mushroom caps brushed with olive oil in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes with the hollow side down. Turn over and prep for stuffing.

Assemble your mushroom caps. Add a thin layer of quinoa, a layer of lentils, then top with peas and quartered tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh grated parm if desired and herbs de province. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil. Place under broiler on low until tomatoes soften and cheese is golden (if used). This will vary on your oven, so keep an eye on it as it cooks. Usually about 5-6 minutes.

Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

Optional: Serve with a drizzle of italian-flavoured balsamic vinegar.

Got an extra five minutes? Add sweet onion shoestrings to bring some additional texture to the dish.Dredge thinly sliced vidalla onions in egg or egg substitute, dip in italian-seasoned flour, fry in hot oil for 2-3 minutes and drain well on a paper towel.

The Great Pizza Experiment

I caught you drooling.

This is probably going to be the most emotional, passionate, scary, experimental and let’s just say it-borderline dramatic post I will ever write. Why? Because I am going to attempt to scratch the surface of what has transpired over the past thirty days in my household. Yes, I experimented with…

pizza dough.

It all started when I was getting frustrated attempting dough in the drier Calgary climate, and wanted to get a bit more serious about my pizza making. Yes, I have made pizza many a times in a restaurant (doing demos) and also at home (to please my kids), but I have never really been satisfied.

So what started out as a curiosity turned into pizza crazy-making at casa mia. It began with the flour. OH MY GOD. The flour. First, I will never ever use any kind of all purpose flour again to make pizza dough. It will, and I swear on a stack of pizza boxes, be only TIPO 00 and Tenero flour. It is the best, I tried it all, and asked a few friends who are chefs for their basic Neapolitan pizza dough recipe.

I scoured the internet, I experimented with time, temperature, bowl size, room temperature…in the fridge, out of the fridge, using a scale, filtered water, with salt, without salt…and yes, I completely understand that the answer has probably is most definitely out there on the internet already, but hey. I like to learn things the hard way. And I sure did (setting off my smoke alarm a few times trying to get a nice, hot oven).

With all of this, here are what I personally consider the holy grails of pizza rules if you want a truly marvelous, Napolese-style pizza.

Rule #1: The Flour.

Only use TIPO Farino Di Grano Tenero flour. Like Poselli, or whatever you can get your hands on at the local Italian specialty market.

Rule #2: The Sauce.

Canned, whole San marzano tomatoes, from Italy only. Crush gently in your hand with minimal herbs, dash of salt, some great EVOO, and a teensy bit of minced garlic that has been roasted goes a lonnng way. Make the tomatoes shine, not your herb garden.

Rule #3: The Pizza Stone.

If you don’t have a fancy pizza oven, then you need to hike up your oven mega hot-to about 550F and heat a pizza stone in there for at least a half hour before you attempt to slide your dough on it. Trust me.

Rule#4: The Stretching of the Dough.

DO NOT ROLL YOUR DOUGH WITH A ROLLING PIN. Hand stretch or toss, do not press and use MINIMAL dough manipulation. You will literally destroy all those lovely bubbles you want in your dough if you do.

Rule #5: The Adding of Salt.

Yes, salt usually goes great with just about anything, except adding too soon in your pizza-making process. When mixing your dough, try dissolving your salt and adding closer to the end of your first mix, so the yeast has time to activate or starter. We are not using a lot of it, and also, not a lot of yeast either.

Rule #6: Use Your Judgement.

Air is dry? Add a bit more water. Air is humid? A bit colder water. Dough doesn’t seem elastic enough after the first rest? You might have killed it or used a bad starter or bad yeast. Chuck it, start over. This is a two-day process, so no point disappointing yourself.

Rule #7: Fresh Ingredients Only.

I feel bad having to write this, as I hope most do use fresh, but yes-you need fresh mozzarella, fresh torn basil, filtered water that is cold and everything should be high-quality.

Rule #8: Use The Broiler.

Your last two minutes or so, you will want to broil the top on high to mimic a pizza oven, where temperatures will get as high as 800-1000 degrees F. This will get you some nice browning. Not burning-browning. If it is burning, don’t blame that on me-you need to watch this step closely.

Rule #9: Weigh Your Ingredients.

Yes, you can measure, and it may turn out ok I am sure, but weighing results in a much better consistency time and time again.

Rule # 10. Don’t Rush Things.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again right? And also, please don’t attempt to take a bite of your delicious pizza pie as it comes out of that 550 degree oven. It needs to rest. Let the cheese firm up a bit, the pizza to cool slightly, and then, and only then, take a well-deserved bite of heaven.

The Recipe

With some modifications, I actually found this recipe to be the closest to the real deal, without having to go to Italy. I recommend highly giving it a try. I have about five different variations of this recipe, but if you want something very well written out and easy to read, this guy did a bang-up job.

The Pizzas

Without further adieu, here are the experiments of the month.

I know, drool away. 🙂

Experimenting with different water temperatures for the yeast.
This was broiled for two minutes. Added arugula once cool.
Pockets of goodness.

Baingan Bhartha…Angelee style

Do you love smoky, salty and sweet flavours as much as I do? Enjoy the idea of cooking Indian but are fearful of getting all the spices wrong?

I love, love, love Indian food and often joke with friends I was born in the wrong country. I’m pretty sure my past life involved me living in India, and cooking for a living 😉

So this brings me to today’s lesson. After spending a relaxing afternoon scouring every single market in Calgary and selecting the freshest tomatoes, non GMO And organic eggplants and the freshest of herbs, I knew I had to make my quick bhartha recipe.

It’s full of layers of spice and flavours, and can be whipped up in under an hour flat.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, bruise free and rubbed in EVOO, making 2 slits and stuffing with garlic clove in each, then rubbing in smoked salt (half tsp) and roasted at 400 deg for 45 min. (Do not skipon smoked salt!) the only way you can is if you roast over an open flame on a gas stove or grill.

1/2 tsp coriander seed; 1/4 tsp red pepper flake and white pepper, ground. Add a pinch of cumin seed.

1/2 tsp Fresh lemon juice-(squeezed towards end of cooking process)

1 pinky finger tip of ginger, 1 whole small onion and 1/2 tsp turmeric, whirred in blender until a puree

1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped

Coriander for garnish

In a metal pan on medium low heat, add 1 tsp oil and spices, toasted for 1-2 min until fragrant but not burned.

Add purée and bring up heat, stirring and cooking for three minutes.

Reduce heat, adding 1 whole fresh chopped tomato and 1/2 cup of water.

Cook on med low, for about 1/2 hour.

Your eggplant should be cooling at this point (add to oven and time to have removed by time you are sauteeing tomato).

Peel and scoop out pulp and place into bowl-set aside

Using a hand blender, lightly whir your tomato purée until chunky. Add pulp and cook on low for another five minutes. Sprinkle garam masala, turn off heat and let stand for five minutes.

Garnesh with cilantro and serve with parathas, naan or basmati.

Yum